Politeía Digest

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Minorities become a majority in Washington region

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By Carol Morello and Ted Mellnik, Wednesday, August 31, 7:04 AM

Washington is among eight big-city metropolitan regions in which minorities became a majority in the past decade, according to a new analysis of census data showing white population declines in many of the largest metro areas.

Along with Washington, the regions surrounding New York, San Diego, Las Vegas and Memphis have become majority-minority since 2000. Non-Hispanic whites are a minority in 22 of the country’s 100-biggest urban areas.

The white population shrank in raw numbers in 42 of those big-city regions. But every large metro area showed a decline in the percentage of whites.

The shifts reflect the aging of the white population as more people get beyond their childbearing years and the relative youth of the Hispanic and Asian populations fueling most of the growth.

“What’s happened is pivotal,” said William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution who conducted the analysis. “Large metropolitan areas will be the laboratories for change. The measures they take to help minorities assimilate and become part of the labor force will be studied by other parts of the country that are whiter and have­n’t been touched as much by the change.”

Racial and ethnic minorities make up slightly more than half of the residents of the Washington region, according to 2010 Census figures. The region was 55 percent white in 2000 and 64 percent white in 1990.

Not every part of the region has been affected equally.

Whites are minorities in the District and in Maryland’s Montgomery, Prince George’s and Charles counties. In Virginia, Prince William County is majority-minority.

With 55 percent of its residents white, Fairfax County could become majority-minority by the next census. So could Loudoun County, which is 62 percent white. Arlington County is one of the few places in the region where the percentage of whites is on the rise.

In most places, the demographic shift has been so rapid that even the officials tracking it have been stunned.

A report this spring by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission noted that the number of students enrolled in the area’s eight school districts grew by almost 119,000 from 1995 to 2010. The number of white students rose by barely 1,000. The rest were minorities.

“What has happened in the past 15 years in the public schools of Northern Virginia is literally mind-boggling,” the report says. “Even for a region accustomed to constant and accelerated change, the spectacularly swift transformation of the racial and ethnic profile of Northern Virginia’s school-aged population is without precedent.” Read more in The Washington Post

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Written by Theophyle

August 31, 2011 at 7:14 pm

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